“Doña Isabel de Porcel,” I announce reverently, as we stand in front of her portrait. You look unimpressed.
“My beloved,” I continue. “My one true love.”
“In love with a painting? A woman from another century?” You throw back your head and laugh, then walk away muttering. “Estás loco! Possessed by a ghost!”
But who are you, to call me crazy? Who are you to call me possessed? It is you who lives the dry and dusty existence, settling for crumbs, while I climb to the stars! She is there, my Isabel, my Andalusian princess, there in the constellations, there on the ancient cliff side overlooking the canyon, there in the city of three bridges.
What do you know of love? What do you know of beauty? Were you to sit at Goya’s feet as he painted, you still would not recognize those lustrous eyes, those ripe, enchanting lips. You with your pack horse and abacus, measuring time in stingy pieces of silver, what do you know of joy?
I see my Isabel reaching down to me through the ages, her eyes like dark moons, her hair curling and whispering through her midnight mantilla. You say she’s a ghost. A ghost she may be, but what does that matter? You are but a tiny island, counting your coins, while I am a universe swirling to the dance of my beloved.
She has summoned me to Ronda, to the three bridges – Puente Romano, Puente Viejo, Puente Nuevo, connecting the ancient city to the new. A fourth bridge is close by, an invisible secret bridge, the Puente Eterno, connecting my life with hers. Once we cross it, we’ll be forever entwined.
Ah, I must go. Do you hear her calling me? Surely you can see her moving to the edge of the abyss. She emits a soft light. Her eyes shine with the glow of other worlds. She beckons and I run toward her with outstretched arms. I take her hand and we joyously stand at the gaping entrance to the beyond, the fourth bridge. Together, we step out into eternity.